As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers using the Yodelist marketing database. You can read their blog at http://yodelist.wordpress.com. Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.
Today’s featured photographer is: Craig LaCourt
How long have you been shooting?
I’ve been working in the industry for over 17 years, but really started pushing my own photography in the last 4 years or so.
Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I did get a BFA in photography from Western Michigan University, and that set a good foundation for how to address things in so much as building groups/series of images, but from a technical/professional aspect it’s the years of working as a digital technician and assistant that taught me the ropes of how the industry works.
With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
I’ve had a broader project of shooting the creative people I meet in my community of Red Hook, Brooklyn for quite some time (hence my Instagram handle @redhook_shooter) and I’d known “Guitar Matt” through the great network of people for a bit before this. I moved my studio into the building he had been working in and we thought it was time to do something as I wanted to do some artisan small business based projects and he could always use new images for his own. We concepted and shot it over the course of a couple days.
How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
This particular project was one of several I wanted to incorporate into my new site/book when I sat down with Karen D’Silva to re-assess what I’d been presenting. She really liked this project in particular.
How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
I usually know before we are done shooting the first day. Most of my personal projects are collaborative in so much as I feed off the people I shoot. It’s such an adrenaline rush when you are on the same plane, but sometimes things just don’t “have it”,
Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I almost always think of shooting as potential portfolio. Sometimes I overanalyze it into something bigger (production wise) than it really needs to be. I recently took a personal trip with a friend who is a motorcycle builder and we went from Denver to Austin for a motorcycle show. I usually would have brought cases and cases of lighting gear and cameras to treat it like an ad production. This time I specifically rented a small camera and a couple lenses and that’s it. I just tagged along to whatever he wanted to do so I didn’t have to plan any production or blocking. I just shot what I saw. It was a nice breath of fresh air and I think it helped me come back really excited.
Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
Sometimes I feel like I got into the game a little too late with social and my photography. I’d always kept the two separated. So now I’m trying to push myself to keep ideas flowing onto Instagram and making an effort to keep it fresh and updated.
If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Not really yet, no. I’ve not figured out the formula for getting that to happen yet. One person I shot for an ad campaign last year has literally MILLIONS of followers on Instagram. I’d love to get over 500 now, ha!
Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
Yes, I just did a pretty big (for me) hard promo push in the spring. I find this is still a very important step in our photography world. I’ve gotten some good feedback from the people that viewed it. For those I haven’t heard back from yet, my hope is that I have planted a seed of interest in their minds regarding the type of work I do.
I’ve lived in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn since moving from the rocky shores of Lake Superior. I like to ride motorcycles on curvy roads or strap a snowboard to my feet when the opportunity presents itself. I try to catch a Red Wings game here and there with my wife, Shami, and my daughter, Mihika.
In my free time I’m always down for a great conversation over a hoppy beer with my dogs at my feet. The best talks are after a really fun photo shoot when we are spent but running on adrenaline from making something special.
People have called me a nice guy.
APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information believing that marketing should be driven by a brand and not specialty. Follow her on twitter at SuzanneSease.